Keeping Your Family Active in a ‘Social Distancing’ Environment
As impacts of coronavirus spread and our communities face constant change, it is important to take care of ourselves and our families. One major factor in our health is getting the recommended amount of physical activity and movement. According to American Guidelines for Physical Activity children need 60 minutes a day of moderate exercise. Adults need at least 150 to 300 minutes of moderate exercise per week. Students typically have the opportunity to play during recess, physical education class and other times throughout the day. This physical activity is important, not only for children’s physical health, but for their social and emotional health also. “Social Distancing” and school closures have taken away these opportunities. Therefore, incorporating movement and activity into your family’s daily routine is even more important.
Below are some tips for activities to do with your kids to increase physical activity and movement throughout the day.
Explore Outside – Exploring the outside gets kids up and active and provides that Vitamin D they may be missing while indoors. To set the example and to make it a family affair, join in the fun. Exploring the outside can be include activities such as: walking/running/riding bikes through the neighborhood, walking nature trails and observing and photographing birds, plants, and other creatures, choosing tunes and having a dance party, and playing games such as I spy
Spring Cleaning – Another way to get kids active is to let them assist in household chores. Not only will this keep them moving, it will teach them great skills. Assign age- and ability-appropriate tasks to each family member. Consider tasks such as picking up toys, pulling weeds in the garden, sweeping the floor, vacuuming, and washing the car. Check out The University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture for a list of appropriate chores by age groups.
Play – In addition to helping release energy, play helps children build skills such as large and small motor skills, cooperation, turn-taking, patience, and much more. When outside opportunities are limited simple indoor games work great. Consider games such as: towel tag, towel hopscotch, balloon taps, balloon volleyball, minute challenges, and living room obstacle course
For more ideas, check out the Healthy Activities to Do at Home by the Action for Healthy Kids.
Maintain a Schedule – Routines provide structure help reduce stress, and help the household to function more efficiently. This is especially important when changes are occurring rapidly. As a family, it important to establish a routine that incorporates movement into those normal routines such as learning time, work time, etc. This allows children and family members to feel in control and provides a sense of normalcy.
Visit Playgrounds – Trips to nearby playgrounds can be considered, but caution must be taken. Even if you live in a place where the virus does not appear to be actively spreading, practicing “social distancing” and maintaining a minimum distance of 6 feet is recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Try to go at times when there are not other children around. Also, wipe down the equipment with antimicrobial wipes before your children play and practice good hand washing hygiene after playing.
Regardless of the activity you choose, take time to keep your family fit during these times. Not only will this keep our families physically well, it will also help to de-stress and keep us mentally well.
Written by Angelika Keene, Community Development Agent, Brevard County
Edited by Gayle Whitworth